“For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.”
-Thomas Paine, Common Sense
The CIA has been in the torturing business for decades, so it was no surprise to hear that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the 9/11 “mastermind,” was taken to a secret U.S. military base in northeastern Poland and was tortured exactly 183 times in March 2003 alone.
183 times!? That’s nearly six waterboardings a day. Even the Japanese, who were prosecuted for war crimes after WW-2 for waterboarding American soldiers, were not as proficient.
FOX “News” talk-show host Sean Hannity has now offered to be “waterboarded for charity” since he believes that this form of “enhanced interrogation,” is not torture. MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann quickly responded by offering to personally waterboard Hannity for $1000 a second.
What has happened to the most American of ideas: the concept of the rule of law? Our country’s conception was unique because it threw off the chains of the rule of emperors and kings (a monarchy) and established the rule of laws (a republic).
John Adams, one of our smartest founding fathers, defended a hated British soldier in court, nearly risking his career for the defense of the rule of law.
Robert A. Taft, a conservative Republican Senator from Ohio in the 1940s and 50s, strongly criticized the post WW-2 Nuremberg Trials for being violations of the rule of law. The German trials:
“…violate the fundamental principle of American law that a man cannot be tried by an ex post facto statute [laws that did not exist when the crime was committed].”
“Nuremberg was a blot on American constitutional history, and a serious departure from our Anglo-Saxon heritage of fair and equal treatment, a heritage which had rightly made this country respected throughout the world.”
Why should illegal and immoral mistreatment of prisoners in custody matter to us? After all, if the use of torture could help save American lives by preventing an attack, wouldn’t it be worth it?
This torture policy shreds not only the pride in our nation but also our security and liberties that are protected by the rule of law. Criticizing the use of torture is not “appeasement” or the defense of terrorists, but a defense of justice without vengeance, one of the pinnacles of insight and achievement of Western civilization.
The U.S. King President, no matter who it is, has the ability to strip away every constitutional right and authorize torture on anyone he deems to be an “enemy combatant”: is this what the founders fought, bled, and died for? To be ruled by the evil whims of cowards men?